Believe me, I know that no one was anxiously awaiting my thoughts on Mike Aviles. But I was one of the most vocal "we can't expect much from him," "he's not a particularly good prospect," and "he's not a long-term solution at SS" guys. I just wanted to say that I'm extremely impressed with Aviles so far.
These are the grades I'd give him so far.
Bat speed A-
Pitch selection A
Contact hitting A+
Plate discipine B
Power hitting A+
Overall grade through 10 games and 36 AB's - A-
I would describe the defensive skills and performance he's shown so far to be below average. Not horrible, or even bad, but below average for a MLB SS. There have been some mistakes and some balls he didn't get to or wasn't able to make a throw. But there have also been some good plays as well. His defensive skills remind me of the reports I've heard of Moustakas at SS: good footwork, handles the ball well, but just doesn't have good SS range. But, overall, his defense has been good enough. Even at SS, if you can hit, you don't need to be great or even average defensively. I think Hillman was correct when he said after Friday's game, "Overall, I think [Aviles has] done a pretty good job," Hillman said. "His lateral range has been acceptable. He's done well." Acceptable defense and a plus bat. I'll take it.
Aviles's stats pretty much speak for themselves:
For the most part, he's taking balls and swinging at strikes. He's making a lot of contact and it is good, hard contact. So far, there isn't much to dislike about his hitting.
Of course, the sample size is small. Even the biggest Aviles fans aren't predicting All-Star appearances in his future. And we should all remember the hot starts of Phil HIatt and Mike Kingery which quickly burnt themselves out. Unfortunately not all that glitters is gold. But I am nonetheless impressed. As long as he's hot, keep him at short, hopefully allowing Callaspo to spell him there and get some more starts backing up Grudz.
There is an interesting issue here. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Aviles is a below average defensive SS (not good and not even average, but also not horrible). How well would such a SS have to hit for you to be comfortable with him being the everyday SS in 2009? I'm not talking about an audition or an extended look (which is what he's getting in 2008). I'm talking about the regular, everyday SS job for the 2009 season. How well would he have to hit to make that defense acceptable?